About Wellness Corporate Solutions

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Cost of Obesity: $147 Billion

Although we've all seen statistics about rising obesity rates, it's still striking to contemplate exactly how much the epidemic is costing our nation. A new study, published by the journal Health Affairs, reports that obesity-related health spending reached $147 billion in 2008. And that doesn't account for other costs, such as lost productivity due to illness.

The study is part of the CDC's Conference on Obesity Prevention and Control.

While there's no easy fix, the CDC includes employee wellness programs as part of the solution. "Obesity is not a problem that is going to respond to a silver bullet or single solution," says William Dietz of the CDC's Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity. "Comprehensive policy and environmental changes are needed, such as improved venting machine choices in schools, access to healthful foods and opportunities for physical activity for inner-city populations, and employer efforts to improve employee wellness."

A few eye-opening statistics:
  • Overall medical spending for an obese person averages $1,400 more per year more than someone of normal weight.
  • Medicare spends approximately $600 more per year on prescriptions for an obese person than for someone of normal weight.
  • Obesity-related health spending accounts for 9.1% of all medical spending, up from 6.5% in 1998.
  • Diabetes costs $190 billion per year to treat, and excess weight is the biggest risk factor for developing diabetes.

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